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Arts & Culture

Theatre Students Sing Classic Feminist Story

‘Little Women: The Broadway Musical’ Takes the Stage at The Clarice

By Kate Spanos Ph.D. ’16

March sisters sing in "Little Women" musical

March sisters Meg (front center, Carolina Tomasi ’22), Jo (left, Leilani Clendenin ’22) and Beth (back center, Amelia Yasuda ’22), along with their mother, Marmee (right, Jordan Embrack ’25) sing “Delighted” as Meg and Jo prepare to go to the ball. The School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies’ edition of “Little Women: The Broadway Musical” is the first musical to be performed at The Clarice since the pandemic shut down theaters 19 months ago.

Photos by David Andrews

Sisters Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy March will be brought to life this weekend in a new production of “Little Women: The Broadway Musical”—but with a casting twist. The musical from UMD’s School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) will still tell the classic, coming-of-age story set during the Civil War, but it will also prompt new conversations on race and gender.

Based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott, “Little Women” is fundamentally a feminist story; each March sister portrays different experiences of womanhood. TDPS faculty Alvin Mayes and Scot Reese, co-directors of the production, cast women of color in some of the leading roles to add another dimension to that theme.

“Throughout rehearsals, we have constantly asked ourselves how well we are representing what was going on at that time and how it connects with each of our lived experiences in the U.S. today,” said Mayes.

“Little Women” is the first musical to be performed at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center since the pandemic shut down theaters 19 months ago. TDPS originally planned to stage the production last year, but rescheduled it for this fall to welcome an in-person audience. Through classes and rehearsals, the cast has rebuilt its endurance to perform on stage again.

“Now we all realize now how quickly these experiences can be taken from us, so we are taking advantage of every moment,” said Reese.

Take a sneak peek at some scenes from the show in the photo gallery below.

The March sisters act out a scene from aspiring author Jo’s story during "Little Women"

The March sisters act out a scene from aspiring author Jo’s story.

March sisters Meg (front center, Carolina Tomasi ’22), Jo (left, Leilani Clendenin ’22) and Beth (back center, Amelia Yasuda ’22), along with their mother, Marmee (right, Jordan Embrack ’25) sing “Delighted” as Meg and Jo prepare to go to the ball in "Little Women"

March sisters Meg (front center, Carolina Tomasi ’22), Jo (left, Leilani Clendenin ’22) and Beth (back center, Amelia Yasuda ’22), along with their mother, Marmee (right, Jordan Embrack ’25) sing “Delighted” as Meg and Jo prepare to go to the ball.

March (Leilani Clendenin ’22) shares her writing with Professor Bhaer (Jake Schwartz ’22) and Mrs. Kirk (Katie Rees ’23) in "Little Women"

Jo March (Leilani Clendenin ’22) shares her writing with Professor Bhaer (Jake Schwartz ’22) and Mrs. Kirk (Katie Rees ’23).

Marmee (Jordan Embrack ’25) sings about grief and hope in her solo “Days of Plenty” in "Little Women"

Marmee (Jordan Embrack ’25) sings about grief and hope in her solo “Days of Plenty.”

Jo brings one of her stories to life at the Weekly Volcano Press in "Little Women"

Jo brings one of her stories to life at the Weekly Volcano Press.

“Little Women: The Broadway Musical”: book by Allan Knee, lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, music by Jason Howland, based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott.

Directed by Alvin Mayes and Scot Reese. Musical direction by Marci Shegogue. Scenic design by Sarah Beth Hall (M.F.A. Design ’21), costume design by Ashlynne Ludwig (M.F.A. Design ’22), lighting design by Michael Winston (M.F.A. Design ’21), sound design by Sam Crawford, with stage manager Keta Newborn and fight captain Kiefer Cure ’24.

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